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10th annual Dungala Kaiela Oration celebrates inclusion

By Ashlea Witoslawski

People filled Rumbalara Football Club’s rooms for the 10th annual Dungala Kaiela Oration last week.

The event celebrated the Kaiela Institute and Melbourne University partnership, which promotes prosperity in the region and creates conversations about Aboriginal cultural identity.

This year’s theme was social and economic inclusion.

Tuesday’s event included a Welcome to Country performed by Rochelle Patten, Belinda, Graham and Jirra Briggs and a performance from the Dungala Children’s Choir with Deborah Cheetham and Toni Lalich.

Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis and Kaiela Institute executive director Paul Briggs created the Dungala Kaiela Oration in 2008 as a platform for the community to be innovative and shape the region’s shared prosperity.

‘‘The largest indigenous community in Victoria lives in the Murray Goulburn region and Shepparton is the centre of this very important community,’’ Professor Davis said.

‘‘Each year there have been some profoundly important arguments and perspectives shared that have helped foster dialogue and change in the region.

‘‘We’re proud to be a part of this discussion around indigenous recognition.’’

The oration welcomed Victorian Treaty Advancement Commissioner Jill Gallagher to discuss the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018.

Australia’s first treaty legislation was presented by Ms Gallagher to the Victorian Parliament this year.

‘‘We’re still trying to put back the pieces from colonisation,’’ she said.

Ms Gallagher spoke about the unfinished business in this county.

‘‘Australia is the only developed Commonwealth country that does not have treaty with indigenous people of this country,’’ she said.

Ms Gallagher’s address opened a dialogue of similarities and differences between Australia and New Zealand and introduced Maori Legal Service director Moana Jackson for the keynote address.

Dr Jackson’s lecture ‘‘At home on country, at home in the world’’ explored the United Nations’ drafting of Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its desire to allow indigenous people to determine their own destinies.

Dr Jackson was asked to be a part of the first Maori delegations to the UN and subsequently asked to chair the indigenous caucus.

‘‘It became one of the most challenging and inspiring periods of my life,’’ he said.

‘‘Although we were all different, spoke different languages, had different cultures and customs, there was also profound similarities.’’

Dr Jackson said the treaty was an ‘‘exciting challenge’’, giving indigenous people the chance to forge new relationships and give our country the opportunity to ‘‘shape the present’’ and ‘‘plan for the future’’.

‘‘A treaty process must acknowledge where the indigenous peoples are today,’’ he said.

‘‘The different lives we lead, the struggles we still have to wage for respect and honour but acknowledge that we are not the same as our ancestors were 200 years ago.

‘‘We have the same love of land, we have the same deep seeded values, but we are part of a different world.

‘‘Yorta Yorta people, like all indigenous peoples, deserve to not just be safe and secure at home in country, but to be confident and brave at home in the world.

‘‘Whatever lies ahead on this country, I wish you well.’’

Dr Jackson received a standing ovation at the close of his speech.